Skip to main content

Plot Elements (Disney Alert)


Plot elements are what makes a story a story. Romance, betrayal, impossible odds, to name a few. In this post I'm going to look at classic plot elements, discuss them, and put a spin on them.

Classic Disney Princess Plot Elements:
Good vs Evil
Unhealthy Social Systems

Remember that Disney Princess movies are, for the most part, based off of some of the first fairy tales. So these elements are in both pop culture and writing history.

Romance is timeless. It's relatable, desirable, and adorable (it's a matter of perspective, okay?). Romance is somewhat overused, yet is not cliche. It's a good way of endearing your characters to readers and pulling these readers into the story (aka shipping). To surprise your audience, pull a cliche-breaker. The girl can end up with the sidekick or the comic relief character. Your protagonist could have a hard time choosing a girl, given the inevitable fawning crowd.

This is a good element that gets a story going, it provides conflict. It gives the protagonist a goal. Readers love rebellion. Everyone loves a rebel. Is this plot element overused? Yes, probably. To spin it, the protagonist could be trying to stop a rebelling society, or when the rebellion gets going there merely aren't enough followers [insert plot twist].

Magic entrances characters and readers. It's necessary in a large portion of fantasy. There is a huge amount of variation, nearly cliche proofing it. However, why is it the protagonist and mentor that gets all the magic? What if the protagonist enlists his sidekick because the sidekick DOES have magic? Perhaps the mentor lost his/her magic and teaches by memory? Endless variety means endless cliche-benders.

Good vs Evil
Good vs Evil is classic, morally good, and sound. Playing with characters that are grey toned is risky. However, characters like Megara from Hercules can be interesting to play with. Good intentions? Bad choices? Vice versa? While making sure to be clear that your character, though flawed, is good or bad, conflict can be twisted many different ways.

Unhealthy Social Systems
Examples of this are the extreme honor culture in Mulan, the close-minded village in Beauty and the Beast, or the mermaids’ extreme fear of humans in The Little Mermaid. Unhealthy social systems are effective yet common. Often protagonists are outcasts, or considered different in some way. This does make them relatable, but is also overused. A spin would be to provide a supportive community for the protagonist that unexpectedly betrays them.

That's a wrap! I hope you enjoyed this.

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Windows to the Soul

Today we look at character descriptions.
What do appearances say about a character's personality?

Quite a lot, actually. Authors use descriptions as an easy way of giving the reader a first impression of a character without having to go into any particular effort.

Cicero once said that "the face is a picture of the mind," and this can be true, especially in books or movies. Authors generally want to give you as much information as possible about their characters (unless they're deliberately hiding things) and will use the opportunity to describe their character's appearance to their advantage.

Look at this extract from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone, where Hagrid is described:

A giant of a man was standing in the doorway. His face was almost completely hidden by a long, shaggy mane of hair and a wild, tangled beard, but you could make out his eyes, glinting like black beetles under all the hair.

This is J.K.Rowling's opportunity to give…